Mastery of big data cuts a competitive edge, on the field as well as in the marketplace.

Advantage goes to those who see patterns and predictability where others see randomness. A true curator of big data possesses the tools and skills to assemble a coherent story and actionable strategy from a complex pool of observations and information.

Nowhere is this big data advantage more evident than it is in the world of competitive sports. Forbes.com cites data analytics as a significant factor in the development and improvement of professional teams around the globe, from Premier League soccer in the UK to football in the United States. Applications range from analysis of competitors to injury reduction.

To the seasoned Hadoop devotee, this makes perfect sense. According to Computerworld, deliberate and sophisticated leverage of big data proves to be vital in a variety of areas, including Netflix's use of complex customer data to determine its programming and the city of Las Vegas' strategy to monitor and maintain its complex public utility system.

Naturally, the same tools and skills vital to analyzing and finding applications for big data apply to the hyper-competitive environment of professional sports. A boxer can take advantage of 12 rounds to identify a flaw in his opponent's defense to construct a reasonable tactical approach as the match develops, but his ability to take in and process that information effectively under duress is limited. A career-long analysis of that opponent's technique before the match even begins produces a more complete and valuable picture. Pattern. Predictability. Vulnerability. Strategy.

Professional sports allow for a very easily understood application of big data mastery, but they also shine a light on the big data purpose for other competitive pursuits. Think of the ElasticSearch developer as the defensive coordinator mapping out a strategy to minimize risk to a financial firm. Imagine the Apache Spark guru partnering with you on a comprehensive marketing campaign as a weathered coach with a flattened nose, barking at you from the corner of the ring to use your left hook and cover your chin better.

In truth, any competitive endeavor relies on a number of factors, including innate superiority, pure luck, preparation, and strategy. Preparation and strategy are really the only controllable factors. Information is vital to preparation and strategy, and the vast sea of information available in the big data environment is of little use if it indicates nothing but randomness. Preparation and strategy only benefit those who recognize pattern, predictability, opportunity, and risk.

Without these observations, any boxer in a match is likely to leave his chin out in the open for a devastating blow, or miss his opportunity to score on his opponent at a critical moment when he lets his guard down. Similarly, a business strategist must have the tools to minimize vulnerability and take advantage of opportunity.

The key is to control the ring, dominate the field. In today's big data world, the player with the greatest capacity for effective analytics owns the game.

If you would like to realize the big data advantage in minimizing risk and recognizing real opportunity in a competitive landscape, contact us. From the sidelines and the corner of the ring, we can put the strategy firmly in your hands.